Owning and selling property in a historic preservation district
involves special restrictions which too many real estate agents and
buyers are still unaware of, members of the Oklahoma City Council
found on Tuesday.
Shortly after the council voted unanimously to approve a set of
preservation guidelines and a revised historic preservation district
ordinance, the council became embroiled in a discussion over long-
standing - but not easily remedied - flaws in the system.
Throughout the yearlong process to come up with a set of
guidelines for the city's historic preservation neighborhoods, two
issues have continually been brought up by stakeholders: education
Scott and Kristen Quillin, a young couple who are both continuing
their education while renovating a historic home, appeared before
the council Tuesday to appeal a decision of the Historic
Preservation and Landmark Commission.
(Tuesday's meeting was the last in which the council will hear
appeals from the commission. The new ordinance, which passed with an
emergency and will go into effect immediately, redirects appeals of
the commission's decisions to the Board of Adjustment.)
The commission told the couple they will have to rip out more
than $3,000 worth of new, non-historic windows they installed
without obtaining a certificate of approval from the commission, as
required by ordinance.
Although the design of the new and the old windows is the same,
the new windows are made of metal instead of wood and therefore are
in violation of the historic preservation ordinance, which
specifically requires like materials to be used for replacements
A motion to uphold the couple's appeal failed in a tie vote by
the council, and the couple will have to replace the windows.
Though council members agreed that the windows were in violation
of the ordinance, the discussion became centered on the need for
education. The couple claimed that they did not know they were
supposed to get a certificate of appropriateness before beginning
any work to the exterior of their home.
The real estate agent who sold them the home, Robert Dugan,
appeared with the Quillins before the council. Dugan said that he
too was ignorant of the restrictions on work done to the home.
The seller was a 90-something-year-old man living in a nursing
home in Tulsa, Dugan said, who did not disclose the historic
preservation requirements. Dugan said he did not receive any notice
of the historic preservation requirements from the previous real
estate agent, the title company provided no information on the
matter, and nothing was mentioned about it during closing.
Tom Daniel, chairman of the commission, told Dugan that as a
Realtor he should have known about the zoning requirements.
As reflected by the vote, the council was divided on the matter.
Council members Amy Brooks, Ward 2, and Ann Simank, Ward 6, both
have historic preservation districts in their wards. Both members
upheld the commission's decision, claiming that ignorance of the law
is no defense.
"We do have people who come before the commission whom we have
told, who seem to have problems remembering - or maybe they just got
caught," Brooks said. To allow the couple to keep their windows
creates a double standard unfair to the people who abide by the
ordinance, she said.
Simank argued that the neighborhoods have worked very hard to
obtain historic preservation zoning, and the council should support
On the other hand, Mayor Kirk Humphreys pointed out that the
restrictions for historic preservation districts apply only to a
handful of neighborhoods across the city, and homeowners new to the
neighborhood wouldn't know what was required of them unless they
were told. …